Kickstart Your Cardio Program

It’s been repeated many times, that the best way to do exercise in all of the three essential disciplines: cardio, strenght and flexibility. But for us to really understand the importance of these essentials, we’ve teamed up with our collaborator, Body Temple and their experts to explain the why and the how. This week we look at Cardio – in the challenge and here: Diana Lim explains..

The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, includes the heart, arteries, veins, capillaries and blood. Supplying oxygen to the body is the most essential function of the cardiovascular system. The benefits of regular cardio activity include improved heart health, a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, increased energy, better sleep and weight management.

Cardiovascular activity refers to any activity that increases heart rate and respiration while using large muscle groups repetitively and rhythmically.

Choose the type of cardio you would like to start with; if you do not like the activity, you will not do it. That means you could take up walking, cycling, dancing, tennis, Zumba, step aerobics, swimming or any other myriad activities.

According to The American College of Sports Medicine, you should perform a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise. This recommendation can be met by completing 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on approximately 5 days per week, if not all, days of the week.  The required daily amount can be broken up throughout the day.

As a beginner, you will most benefit from moderate-intensity cardio, which means that you are breathing slightly heavier than normal, but you are not panting and gasping for air.  If you’re completely new to cardiorespiratory training begin with something light like a brisk walk for 20 minutes, this will allow your body to adjust to aerobic training while minimizing the risk of soreness and overuse injuries.  Start with 2-3 sessions a week and keep your intensity high enough to make you sweat and get your heart rate up, but light enough you can still carry on a light conversation.

Each week you can increase speed or duration, but do not increase it by more than 10% each week. As your fitness level increases gradually increase the number of sessions per week and the intensity or length of the sessions until you are performing 3-5 sessions of 30 minutes a week at a moderate to high intensity. A high intensity cardiorespiratory workout would be one in which you are working hard enough that you can only answer short yes or no type questions. Give your body plenty of time to improve and adapt, and eventually you will have a high level of fitness.

Below if a beginner’s 8-week program to run 30 minutes at a moderate pace.  Before you begin the program, consider the following: 1. If you are over 40, overweight, not accustomed to exercise, or have a health risk or symptoms, please consult a doctor 2. Schedule your workouts by making time for them. Leave your shoes out by the door 3. Expect bad days. Everyone has them but stick with the program.


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